In the NFL, you often have to overpay a free agent and pay players that may never see the field. In 2012, the Buffalo Bills had both types on their roster - and while they weren't up against the salary cap, they did spend money that could have been used more wisely.
Players on this list are rated based on their contributions on the field in relation to their salary. Injuries were weighted in the final list. For comparison's sake, we will use each player's cap hit for the season using information from Spotrac.com. Since the could take a cap hit years after a player leaves, you'll see some old names on this list.
Before we start the list, I wanted to share a note about why Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't on it. Fitzpatrick had a $6 million cap hit in 2012, which places him in the middle of NFL starting quarterbacks. Peyton Manning was probably well worth the $18 million cap hit to the Denver Broncos. Fitzpatrick finished 16th in the NFL in completion percentage, 18th in yards, 13th in touchdown passes and 17th in passer rating, which are all in line with his contract. Quite simply, Fitz played to his middle-of-the-road starting quarterback contract.
Honorable mentions: Aaron Maybin ($5.05 million), Lee Evans ($2,383,334), Drayton Florence (1,583,334). Each player contributed dead space to the cap this year, per Spotrac, despite Maybin and Evans being gone for two years. The Bills cut Florence this past off-season after drafting Stephon Gilmore.
Dishonorable mention: Vince Young ($350,000). Boy, that signing bonus was well-spent by Buddy Nix.
10. Mario Williams ($9,800,000): Williams had the ninth-highest cap hit among NFL defensive ends and ended up tied for 17th among all defensive players with 10.5 sacks. He really began turning it on as the season wore on and his wrist injury began to affect him less and less. Still, at almost $10 million, he was paid $930,000 per sack. He was Buffalo's most-used defensive lineman, taking the field for 929 plays.
9. Fred Jackson ($3,680,000): A staple of the underpaid list until signing a new contract this past off-season, Jackson repeatedly dealt with the injury bug in 2012, saying at his best he was only at 80 percent. At $24,832 per touch on offense, he was a pretty expensive training room occupant.
8. Brad Smith ($3,750,000): The Wildcat role Chan Gailey imagined for Smith never came to fruition, but he was a jack-of-all-trades (and master-of-none). He had 14 rushing attempts with one touchdown, 14 receptions and two touchdowns, and 18 kickoff returns including one score. He was in on 572 snaps between offense and special teams, so the $3.75 million wasn't a complete waste. He threw an interception on his only pass attempt of the year.
7. Tyler Thigpen ($2,500,000): Thigpen appeared in four games in mop-up duty (mopped-up duty would be more accurate). He had three completions on five attempts for 30 yards and one kneel-down. He isn't higher on the list because backup quarterbacks are a necessary evil.
6. Mark Anderson ($3,500,000): When the Bills signed Anderson, I think they were hoping he would have more than one sack. He dealt with a knee injury for most of the season, having two surgeries, and couldn't make it back before the end of the season. He made $14,344 per snap, which unfortunately isn't even on the worst figure on the defensive line.
5. Chris Kelsay ($4,093,750): Kelsay played in nine games after suffering two separate injuries during the season. He recorded the team's lone safety on the season, cleaning up after pressured the quarterback. His two sacks and 12 tackles were both career lows.
4. Terrence McGee ($3,780,000): If there were still doubts, they are gone. The wheels have fallen off one of Buffalo's longest-tenured players. Once again dealing with injuries, McGee managed to play in seven games, but only 142 snaps. For those of you with a calculator, that's $26,620 per snap. Injuries mitigate his spot on this ranking.
3. Spencer Johnson ($4,000,000): Playing in a rotation at defensive tackle, Johnson was clearly the fourth man through (aided a bit by injury). He played 264 snaps, a rate of more than $15,000 per snap. His 10 tackles were the lowest of his career, but he did manage two sacks and a forced fumble. Any other year, Johnson would easily top the list.
1. Tarvaris Jackson ($2,000,000): Two million dollars and a seventh-round pick gets you zero games on the active roster? Sign me up for that job. Fail.